We’re only three episodes into The Mindy Project‘s fourth season, and I’m just about ready to declare Season 4 the best season of Mindy yet. Since debuting on Hulu three weeks ago, The Mindy Project has been on fire, with smart and fun episodes focusing on the many challenges facing Mindy and Danny as they’ve gotten engaged and now become new parents. Fortunately, even as the series turns its attention to some of the supporting players (such as Jeremy and Tamra) in this week’s installment, “Leo Castalleno Is My Son,” Mindy is still able to tell another wonderfully crafted story about the show’s central couple, as the two of them learn how to parent their newborn son together.
It was always going to be interesting to see The Mindy Project explore Mindy as a mother. How well would this character that we’ve grown to love so much for her eccentricities and impulsive decisions handle taking care of a baby? As you would expect, not super well, but not because of any irresponsibility on Mindy’s part; instead, her biggest problems with spending time with Leo are a result of Danny’s overprotective parenting, as he worries that anyone and anything could potentially harm his and Mindy’s son and asks them to please stay shut inside of the apartment.
What has always made Mindy and Danny such a fantastic couple to watch is that, even though they approach situations incredibly different ways, they come at these scenarios from the same place: a sense of love and care. Mindy wants to be able to raise Leo as her own child; she wants to take him with her as she goes out to book signings held by the Gyllenhaals or to share small pieces of junk food with him when he’s old enough to eat solid food. Similarly, Danny wants to protect his son at all costs and ensure that he has the safest and best childhood possible, mostly because he loves Leo so much and partly because it represents the type of care and consideration that Danny never got from his own father when he was younger.
However, like any good parents, Mindy and Danny need to realize (and they do, by episode’s end) that parental strategies that are different from their own aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They both love their son and express that love in their own unique way, and it’s the fact that Leo has both Mindy and Danny in his life that will help make sure he’s the best of both of them. If either of the two were to suppress who they were, they’d be doing Leo a disservice, preventing their son from meeting the truest version of themselves. By speaking honestly and maturely about this (after a couple of issues with getting locked out of the apartment and a secret nanny cam), Mindy and Danny are able to come to this realization and agree to work together to raise Leo in a way that will showcase the best sides of each of them.
It’s that scene at the end of the episode (minus Morgan leaving his robe open, although that was quite hilarious) that represents the very best of The Mindy Project. This series, unlike so many other comedies like it, understands the complexity and authenticity of real-life relationships, even when its characters’ behavior is as cartoonish as some of it was in this episode. That knowledge, proven time and time again in the show’s writing, doesn’t just make Danny and Mindy one of the most relatable and very best couples on TV; it solidifies The Mindy Project as one television’s most intelligent sitcoms, one that is on a hell of a hot streak right now. Let’s hope it continues for the remaining 23 episodes of Season 4.
- I’ll be filling in for Jen on Mindy Project reviews for the time being. Sorry I didn’t get the chance to cover last week’s pivotal episode, which I think I might have loved even more than the season premiere. Like I said, Season 4 has been amazing so far.
- I didn’t touch upon this episode’s other two stories above, but they were both pretty enjoyable, particularly Morgan’s dalliance with Eliza Coupe’s Chelsea. My only problem with the Jeremy/Tamra plot is that it felt so similar to what The Mindy Project has done before with Jeremy’s character, although having Whitney not actually cheating on him (but apparently being a cocaine addict) was a nice, refreshing twist.
- Speaking of Eliza Coupe, as someone who was a huge Happy Endings fan, it was absolutely terrific to see her in this episode, and I hope she returns sometime this season. I loved Chelsea and Mindy’s interactions and think that could be a really fun relationship to explore more.
- This may be my favorite Danny episode to date, as pretty much everything he said or did had me dying with laughter. From him embracing his Italian heritage to his sadness over not being able to watch The Weather Channel (“especially in an El Nino year”), he was easily the best part of this week’s The Mindy Project.
- Also, Danny’s first job was at age six, working as a lookout for the Puerto Rican Diablos; he wants Leo to call him “Papa”; and he liked Southpaw but hated Brokeback Mountain. Again, I must repeat: Danny is the best.
- I would love to participate in TLC Tuesdays with Tamra. Also, even though it was only though voice-over, it was pretty cool to have Laverne Cox back as her cousin, Sheena. Who knew she worked at the White House!
- I can’t imagine a better ringtone for Mindy on Morgan’s phone than “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo. Well done, Mindy Project writers.
- Mindy has mixed feelings about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: “It certainly has a lot of the n-word like a Kanye song. Oh no, but it has a message like a Common song!”
- Mindy’s reason for why it’s okay for her to go the movies with Leo: “Because I’m ethnic.”
- “New York City is the greatest city in the world, but it’s a vile cesspool of disease. We invented AIDS…Take that, San Fran.”
What did everyone else think of this week’s episode of The Mindy Project? Are you loving this season as much as I am?
[Photo credit: Jessica Brooks/NBC]